By Jason Haggstrom, October 31, 2012
I admit it. Like so many millions, I am a Star Wars geek. Having been born right smack dab in the middle of the 1970s, it was pretty hard to not fall in love with the franchise in my formative years. My very earliest memories are populated by Luke Skywalker action figures, and toy versions of the most beautiful spaceships ever designed.
To say that the series had an impact on my life, and my love for cinema, would be a massive understatement. When my two young kids asked me to detail just how Chicken Run was made, I involved them in the creation of a short stop motion film starring R2-D2 so they could (hopefully) learn by doing. In anticipation of Revenge of the Sith, I composed a tongue-in-cheek limerick about Obi-Wan Kenobi where each of the six stanzas referred to one of the films. Just this past weekend, I attended a Halloween event at a military aircraft museum because I really wanted to get my taken with an amazing, fan-made replica of R2-D2 that was onsite (well, I also really wanted to see the planes...). And I didn't just go way out of my way to make it to each of the last three Star Wars films on opening night, my best friend actually flew across the country so that we could share in the experience together (both the excitement, and the disappointments). Yes, I am a Star Wars geek.
As both a Star Wars geek and a cinephile, my mind has been consumed by a single question since yesterday's announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and would be producing a new trilogy of Star Wars films beginning in 2015. That question? With George Lucas (thankfully) out of the picture, who will be hired to direct? Here is my wish list:
By Jason Haggstrom, October 31, 2012
It's October, and with the changes of Autumn come fall colors. Between the descending leaves and the presence of pumpkins, we're accustomed to seeing plenty of orange and yellow at this time of year. But the Halloween season brings forth another, less natural combination of colors. It's a union of colors that resonates with me more than any other. It's that luscious pairing of purple & green.
I have the distinct memory of seeing Disney's Sleeping Beauty in the theatre as a kid. IMDb lists Sleeping Beauty as being re-released in September of 1979 (it's original run was in 1959), which would have made me 3½. Seeing that film for the first time, and in such a magnificent setting, was a formative experience.
By Jason Haggstrom, March 31, 2012
I know what you're thinking. Last year for April Fools I doctored up the infamous joke ending of Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest in order to make it just a taaaad more obvious. Y'know, for the people that only felt the rush of wind as the original joke sailed right over their heads. So you might be expecting that this post will be a joke too, right? Well, here's the thing: last year was somewhat of an anomaly. I'm not really a big April Fools kinda guy. But just because this isn't an April Fool (hey, it's only March 31st!) that doesn't mean that this post won't have funny bits. And, yeah, I might even doctor up another video so stick around 'til the end.
By Jason Haggstrom, April 1, 2011
Future generations, please note the date of publication on this article
In a surprise announcement, Warner Bros. pictures has revealed that the original edit of the climactic scene of Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest has turned up in the studio's archives. This newly found footage, a far less subtle—and far more vulgar—version of the film's classic "train entering the tunnel" joke (a visual pun referring to the couple's sexual activity) existed mostly in film circles as a rumor of mythic proportions. Few have heard of the original ending because it has not only been long lost in the Warner archives, but because the only reference to the footage exists in the first editions of the interview book, Hitchcock/Truffaut (later editions of the book omitted the reference to the original North By Northwest ending because of Hitchcock's disparaging words about the film's star, Cary Grant). Because of this, first editions of the book have become a hard-to-find collector's item. The following exchange regarding the original ending occurs on page 257:
By Jason Haggstrom, September 24, 2010
The truth: I haven't seen I'm Still Here, the new film documenting Joaquin Phoenix's downward spiral as he abandons his acting career in an attempt to become a hip-hop artist. The film sounded intriguing in a Lost in La Mancha kind of way. Where that film captured the destruction of Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film, I'm Still Here promised to bear witness to the destruction of a very real, and very famous man. There's often a simultaneous thrill and horror to be found in watching something real be destroyed. I find it all too natural to view terrible events captured on film as cinema even as—or precisely because—I understand that there's only a television or movie screen separating me from real terror, suffering, and in some cases death. But with this week's revelation that everything we've seen from Phoenix over the last 18 months—the bizarre interviews, the rap concerts, and the unfortunate fights and falls—has all been part of an elaborate performance (so soon after the film's premiere no less), I'm left wondering if the film still has relevance.
By Jason Haggstrom, July 18, 2010
My kids love Chicken Run, the masterpiece of stop motion animation by Aardman, the studio responsible for the equally brilliant Wallace & Gromit series. But, being that Samantha and Kristen are six and four years old respectively, it's hard to convey to them how such films are created. For weeks, the girls have prompted me with such questions as "How do they make the chickens move if they aren't real?" and "Do they have batteries?" They've seen the documentaries and marveled at miniaturized sets, characters, and the dozens of interchangeable heads that allow each character to possess a myriad of facial expressions. Still, they don't really understand exactly what the process behind stop motion is.